The SkyRyders are no longer the best-skilled fliers in the sky, and MAC is determined to rectify the situation by breeding better fliers. However, the introduction of an exceptional flier into the project brings an underlying cancer to light. Convinced the Corp removed a maneuver so a female could pass the flight exam, the male cadets in the Academy revolt. Sensing chaos and mutiny at the Fort, the enemy cartel gathers a force to annihilate the entire West Coast forces.
Cassie called the number on the card. The man who answered invited her to come for an immediate interview. When she arrived, the recruiting officer was both respectful and enthusiastic about her possible careers within the Corp. Because rank was decided by MAC, the non-biased computer that ran the Corp, women could advance up the ranks of the Corp, same as a man. The Corp had a proud history of great women officers, including several Generals. He told her about General Alisha Kane and her meteoric rise.
He then explained the Corp would invest more in a soldier who was willing to make a serious commitment in return. If she were willing to commit the time, they were willing to foot the bill for the special training required to move a soldier from good to great.
Focused on the goal of becoming a general, Cassie enlisted as a SkyRyder with a twenty-year commitment, which placed her on the fast track for training and promotions. She signed the contract, making her safe from her father, her unknown fiancé, and the countless lawyers her father would unleash to get her back.
She was headed to her new base two hundred miles away before her father’s car arrived on campus to retrieve her. She knew she’d never see her family again. But given the choice of the life her father offered to the opportunities of the Corp, she never wavered in her conviction she had made the right decision.
Like all recruits, she entered as a first-year cadet. Being a cadet was hard, but she expected it to be hard.
While she wasn’t treated noticeably different from her male counterparts, she did notice all the captains, lieutenants, and every other officer she saw were men. Looking around her, twenty percent of the cadets were women and some of them were damn good fliers. So where were they going? Why weren’t any becoming captains?
Her captain, Captain Dan Torres, told her to stop worrying about the other women and just focus on herself. She had talent, and if she applied herself, there was no limit to how far she might go. He’d tell her these words of encouragement when she lay in his cot at night. During the day, he bellowed and threatened her much the same as he did the other cadets in his squad.
She resented the dual relationship at times, and by the end of her year, she preferred the bellowing to the praises, because when she really started to show progress, their relationship turned downwind, and the sweet praises turned sour, more like belittlements disguised as praise. What her captain didn’t realize was that the more he bellowed, the harder she worked to prove him wrong.
The day she successfully completed her test on the glide maneuver was the happiest day of her life. It wasn’t just that she’d move to a better squad and captain. It wasn’t even that she had learned a maneuver that only a small percentage of fliers ever mastered, and it had taken her one month, not years, to do it. The reason this was the best day of her life was for the first time, she felt real hope.
Cassie Brown knew without a doubt she could and would become a general of the SkyRyders’ Corp.
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About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, skydive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet throughout her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.
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